Black people and Mormonism

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From the mid-1800s until 1978, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) had a policy which prevented most men of black African descent from being ordained to the church's lay priesthood.[1]:213 Black members were also not permitted to participate in most temple ordinances,[2]:198 these beliefs influenced views on civil rights.[3]:75 The priesthood of other Mormon denominations, such as the Community of Christ, Bickertonite and Strangite, have always been open to persons of all races.[4][5]

After Joseph Smith's death, Brigham Young taught that black suffrage went against church doctrine, that God had taken away the rights for blacks to hold public office, and that God would curse whites who married blacks.[3]:39 These views were criticized by abolitionists of the day.[6] Young did teach that the ban on blacks would one day be lifted, he also stated that black church members would one day receive the priesthood and its blessings, but only after this life when the other saints would receive similar blessings.[3]:66 He was instrumental in officially legalizing slavery in Utah territory, teaching that the doctrine of slavery was connected to the priesthood ban.[7]:43[3]:35-40

Before the civil rights movement, the LDS Church's doctrine-based policy went largely unnoticed and unchallenged for around a century[8][9] with the First Presidency stating in 1947 that the doctrine of the Church which banned interracial marriage and black people from entering the temple or receiving the priesthood was never questioned by any of the Church leaders.[10][11]:90 The doctrinal undergirding to the priesthood ban for black members was re-emphasized in the church's first of three First Presidency statements in 1949, the statement under George Smith declared, "It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time." The statement further explained that conduct in the premortal existence caused some children of God to be "cursed with a skin of blackness" as the "seed of Cain" and to be denied the priesthood.[3]:66[11]:91,221

Though the church had an open membership policy for all races, they avoided opening missions in areas with large black populations and discouraged people with black ancestry from investigating the church.[12]:27[13]:76 Relatively few black people who joined the church retained active membership.[14]

In the 1960s, Mormon attitudes about race were generally close to those of other Americans.[15][16] Beginning in the 1960s, however, the church was criticized by civil rights advocates and religious groups, and in 1969 several church leaders voted to rescind the policy, but the vote was not unanimous among the members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, so the policy stood.[3]:64 In 1978, the First Presidency and the Twelve, led by Spencer W. Kimball, declared they had received a revelation instructing them to reverse the racial restriction policy. The change seems to have been prompted at least in part by problems facing mixed race converts in Brazil.[3]:101–102 Today, the church opposes racism in any form and has no racial discrimination policy.[3]:132–135

In 1997, there were approximately 500,000 black members of the LDS Church, accounting for about five percent of the total membership; most black members live in Africa, Brazil, and the Caribbean.[17]

As of the early 21st-century the fastest and most sustained growth experienced by the LDS Church is among black populations in West Africa, most especially Ivory Coast.

Before 1847[edit]

Jane Manning was an early African American member who was a servant[18] in Joseph Smith's household in Nauvoo and later followed Brigham Young to Utah Territory. She petitioned church leadership to allow her to obtain the endowment, but was repeatedly denied because of the ban.[19]:154

The Book of Mormon describes a series of conflicts between the light-skinned Nephites and the dark-skinned Lamanites. In The Book of Mormon, God inflicts a "curse" of dark skin on the Lamanites when they disobey him and become "white and delightsome" when they obey him.[3]:8[20] The Book of Mormon also preaches that Christ's atonement was for everyone, including women, slaves, and Blacks, and that the gospel should be preached to all.[3]:9[21] During the early years of the Latter Day Saint movement, black people were admitted to the church, and there was no record of any racial policies on denying priesthood privileges to worthy Latter Day Saint men, this is especially evident because at least two black men became priests: Elijah Abel and Walker Lewis.[22] Church leaders supported and opposed slavery at different points in time. See this page's section on slavery for more details.

Teachings about black people[edit]

Teachings on black people and the pre-existence[edit]

One of the justifications that the LDS church used for the discriminatory policy was that black individual's pre-existence spirits were not as virtuous as white pre-existence spirits. Brigham Young rejected the idea that Africans were cursed because they had been less valiant in a premortal life, but Orson Pratt supported it.[23] Formally, this justification appeared as early as 1908 in a Liahona magazine article.[3]:56 Joseph Fielding Smith supported the idea in his 1931 book The Way to Perfection, stating that the priesthood restriction on black was a "punishment" for actions in the pre-existence;[24] in a letter in 1947, the First Presidency wrote in a letter to Lowry Nelson that blacks were not entitled to the full blessings of the Gospel, and referenced the "revelations [...] on the preexistence" as a justification.[25][26][27]:67 In 1952 Lowry published a critique of the what he termed a racist policy in an article in The Nation.[28] Lowry believes it was the first time the folk doctrine that blacks were less righteous in the pre-existence was publicized to the non-Mormon world.[29]

The LDS church also used this explanation in their 1949 statement explicitly barring blacks from holding the priesthood.[3]:66 An address by Mark E. Peterson was widely circulated by BYU religion faculty in the 1950s and 60s and used the "less valiant in the pre-existence" explanation to justify segregation, a view which Lowell Bennion and Kendall White, among other members, heavily criticized,[3]:69 the apostle Joseph Fielding Smith also taught that black people were less faithful in the preexistence.[30][31]

After the priesthood ban ended in 1978, church leaders refuted the idea that black people were less valiant in the pre-existence; in a 1978 interview with Time Magazine, President Spencer W. Kimball stated that the LDS Church no longer held to the theory that those of African descent were any less valiant in the pre-earth life.[3]:134 Jeffrey R. Holland in a 2006 interview for the PBS documentary The Mormons stated that inaccurate racial "folklore" was invented to justify the priesthood ban, and that reasons for the previous ban are unknown.[3]:134[32][33]:60 The LDS Church explicitly denounced any justification for the priesthood restriction based in views on events in the pre-mortal life in the "Race and the Priesthood" essay published in 2013.[34]

Curse of Cain and Ham[edit]

Joseph Smith and Brigham Young taught that blacks were under the Curse of Ham.

According to the Bible, after Cain killed Abel, God cursed him and put a mark on him, although the Bible does not state the nature of the mark,[35] the Pearl of Great Price, another book of Mormon scripture, describes the descendants of Cain as dark-skinned.[3]:12 In another biblical account, Ham discovered his father Noah drunk and naked in his tent, because of this, Noah cursed Ham's son, Canaan to be "servants of servants".[36][2]:125 Although the scriptures do not mention Ham's skin color, a common Judeo-Christian interpretation, pre-dating Mormonism, used these verses to justify slavery.[2]:125

Both Joseph Smith[2]:126 and Brigham Young referred to the curse to justify slavery;[37] in addition, Brigham Young used the curse to bar blacks from the priesthood, ban interracial marriages, and oppose black suffrage.[11]:70[38][39][40] He stated that the curse would one day be lifted and that black people would be able to receive the priesthood post-mortally.[3]:66

Young once taught that the devil was black,[41] and his successor as church president, John Taylor, taught on multiple occasions that the reason that black people (those with the curse of Cain) were allowed to survive the flood was so that the devil could be properly represented on the earth through the children of Ham and his wife Egyptus.[2]:158[42][43] The next president, Wilford Woodruff also affirmed that millions of people have Cain's mark of blackness drawing a parallel to modern Native American's "curse of redness".[44]

In a 1908 Liahona article for missionaries, an anonymous but church-sanctioned author reviewed the scriptures about blackness in the Pearl of Great Price, the author postulated that Ham married a descendant of Cain. Therefore Canaan received two curses, one from Noah, and one from being a descendant of Cain,[3]:55 the article states that Canaan was the "sole ancestor of the Negro race" and explicitly linked his curse to be "servant of servants" to black priesthood denial.[3]:55 To support this idea, the article also discussed how Pharaoh, a descendant of Canaan according to LDS scripture, could not have the priesthood, because Noah "cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood".[3]:58[45]

In 1931, Joseph Fielding Smith wrote on the same topic in The Way to Perfection: Short Discourses on Gospel Themes, generating controversy within and without Mormonism. For evidence that modern blacks were descended from Cain, Smith wrote that "it is generally believed that" Cain's curse was continued through his descendants and through Ham's wife. Smith states that "some of the brethren who were associate with Joseph Smith have declared that he taught this doctrine." General authorities in the LDS church favored Smith's explanation until it was officially repudiated in 2013.[3]:59 The Old Testament student manual, which is published by the Church and is the manual currently used to teach the Old Testament in LDS Institutes, teaches that Canaan could not hold the priesthood because of his race.[46]

One Mormon scholar, Alma Allred, points out that according to Mormon scripture, Ham himself was not cursed, but his fourth son Canaan was, before Canaan was cursed, but after Ham married, Ham "walked with God," suggesting that Ham was not cursed for marrying a Canaanite woman as some Mormon leaders believed. Allred further notes the inconsistency of the curse on descendants of Canaan by observing that Abraham and Joseph of Egypt both married Egyptian, Canaanite women. According to LDS theology, both prophets had birthrights passed down to their posterity. Allred further argues that Pharoh was not denied holding the priesthood, but the "right of the priesthood", interpreting this scriptural phrase as a specific right to be the presiding high priest, which was given to Ephraim through Shem.[11]:41–46

Antediluvian people of Canaan[edit]

According to the Pearl of Great Price, the people of Canaan were a group of people that lived during the time of Enoch, before the Canaanites mentioned in the Bible. Enoch prophesied that the people of Canaan would war against the people of Shum, and that God would curse their land with heat, and that a blackness would come upon them. When Enoch called the people to repentance, he taught everyone except the people of Canaan. Later, the Book of Abraham identifies Pharaoh as a Canaanite. There is no explicit connection from the antediluvian people of Canaan to Cain's descendants, the Canaanites descended from Ham's son Canaan or modern black people.[11]:41–42 However, the Pearl of Great Price identifies both Cain's descendants and the people of Canaan as black and cursed, and they were frequently used interchangeably.[11][47] Bruce R. McConkie justified restrictions on teaching black people because Enoch did not teach the people of Canaan.[48]


The first known slaves to enter the Utah Territory came west with the congregations of Mississippi. By 1850, 100 blacks had arrived, the majority of whom were slaves,[49] after the pioneers arrived in Utah, they continued to buy and sell slaves as property. Many prominent members of the church were slave owners, including William H. Hooper, Abraham O. Smoot, and Charles C. Rich.[3]:33 Church members would use their slaves as tithing, both lending out their slaves to work for the church[50] as well as giving their slaves to the church.[51][52]:34 Though initially opposed to it, by the early 1850's Brigham Young was a "firm believer in slavery".[3]:32-33[53][54] Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball used the slave labor that had been donated as tithing and then eventually granted their freedom.[51][52]:52 The church opposed slaves who wanted to escape their masters.[55][56]:268

Statements from church leaders[edit]

Joseph Smith supported and opposed slavery at different points in his life; in 1835, Joseph Smith wrote an official declaration that opposed baptizing slaves against the will of their masters.[3]:17 Joseph Smith wrote an essay in 1836, published in Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate, which was strongly anti-abolitionist.[3]:22 In the essay, Joseph Smith taught that slavery was ordained of God.[27]:14 Joseph Smith probably wanted to distance Mormons from abolitionists, since many Mormons were living in Missouri, a pro-slavery state,[3]:18 after the Mormons were forced out of Missouri, they lived in Illinois, a free state. Joseph Smith's position on slavery changed, and he was vocally against slavery from 1842 until his death.[3]:18[27]:18-19

Because of slave owners who were converting to the church in Missouri, there was much confusion regarding the church's position on slavery, these same feelings arose during the migration to Utah. In 1851, apostle Orson Hyde stated that there was no law in Utah prohibiting or authorizing slavery, and that the decisions on the topic were to remain between slaves and their masters, he also clarified that individuals' choices on the matter were not in any way a reflection of the church as a whole or its doctrine.[57]:2 Brigham Young taught that slavery was "of Divine institution, and not to be abolished until the curse pronounced on Ham shall have been removed from his descendants."[3]:40

Utah Territory (1850)

In Utah Territory[edit]

After the Compromise of 1850 allowed California into the Union as a free state while permitting Utah and New Mexico territories the option of deciding the issue by popular sovereignty, the Utah Territorial Legislature took up the issue of legalizing slavery. At that time, Brigham Young was governor, and the Utah Territorial Legislature was dominated by church leaders;[58] in 1852, Brigham Young addressed the joint session of the legislature advocating slavery. He made the matter religious by declaring that if members of the church believe in the Bible and the priesthood then they should also believe in slavery.[7]:28 Following the speech, the Utah Legislature passed an Act in Relation to Service, which officially sanctioned slavery in Utah Territory,[49] the Utah slavery law stipulated that slaves would be freed if their masters had sexual relations with them; attempted to take them from the territory against their will; or neglected to feed, clothe, or provide shelter to them. In addition, the law stipulated that slaves must receive schooling.[3]:33

Utah was the only western state or territory that had slaves in 1850,[59] but slavery was never important economically in Utah, and there were fewer than 100 slaves in the territory;[8] in 1860, the census showed that 29 of the 59 black people in Utah Territory were slaves. When the American Civil War broke out in 1861, Utah sided with the Union, and slavery ended in 1862 when the United States Congress abolished slavery in the Utah Territory.[2][60]

Biddy Mason was one of 14 blacks who sued for their freedom after being illegally held captive in San Bernardino

In San Bernardino[edit]

In 1851, a company of 437 Mormons under direction of Elders Amasa M. Lyman and Charles C. Rich of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles settled at what is now San Bernardino. This first company took 26 slaves,[61] and more slaves were brought over as San Bernardino continued to grow,[62] since California was a free state, the slaves should have been freed when they entered. However, slavery was openly tolerated in San Bernardino.[63] Many wanted to be free,[64] but were still under the control of their masters and ignorant of the laws and their rights. Judge Benjamin Hayes freed 14 slaves who had belonged to Robert Smith.[65] Other slaves were freed by their masters.[61]

Interracial marriages and interracial sexual relations[edit]

U.S States, by the date of repeal of anti-miscegenation laws:
  No laws passed
  Repealed before 1887
  Repealed from 1948 to 1967
  Overturned on June 12, 1967[66]

The church's stance against interracial marriage held consistent for over a century while attitudes towards black people and the priesthood, slavery, or equal rights saw considerable changes. Nearly every decade beginning with the church's formation until the '70s saw some denunciation against miscegenation. Church leaders' views stemmed from the priesthood policy and racist "biological and social" principles of the time.[11]:89-90[27]:42-43

Early church leaders[edit]

One of the first times that anti-miscegenation feelings were mentioned by church leaders, occurred on February 6, 1835. An assistant president of the church, W. W. Phelps, wrote a letter theorizing that Ham's wife was a descendant of Cain and that Ham himself was cursed for "marrying a black wife".[67][2][11]:59[68] Joseph Smith wrote that he felt that black peoples should be "confined by strict law to their own species," which some have said directly opposes Smith's advocacy for all other civil rights;[3]:98 in Nauvoo, it was against the law for black men to marry whites, and Joseph Smith fined two black men for violating his probation of intermarriage between blacks and whites.[69]

In 1852, the Utah legislature passed Act in Relation to Service which carried penalties for whites who had sexual relations with blacks, the day after it passed, church president Brigham Young explained that that if someone mixes their seed with the seed of Cain, that both they and their children will have the Curse of Cain. He then prophesied that if the Church were approve of intermarriage with blacks, that the Church would go on to destruction and the priesthood would be taken away,[70] the seed of Cain generally referred to those with dark skin who were of African descent.[3]:12 In 1863 during a sermon criticizing the federal government, Young said that the penalty for interracial reproduction between whites and blacks was death.[3]:43[71]:54

20th century[edit]

In 1946, J. Reuben Clark called racial intermarriage a "wicked virus" in an address by in the church's official Improvement Era magazine (a predecessor to the current New Era).[72] The next year, church member Virgil H. Sponberg asked if members of the church should be required to interact with blacks, the First Presidency under George Albert Smith sent a reply on May 5 stating that social interaction with blacks should not be encouraged because it would lead to interracial marriage.[11]:89[27]:42 Two months later in a 17 July 1947 letter to Lowry Nelson, the First Presidency stated that marriage between a black person and a white person is not sanctioned by the church and is "contrary to church doctrine".[26][71]:54,89[73] Two years later in response to inquiries from a Californian stake president about whether white members were required to associate with black people the apostle Clark wrote that the church discouraged social interaction with black people since it could lead to marriage with them and interracial children.[3]:171[74] Church apostle Mark E. Petersen said in a 1954 address that he wanted to preserve the purity of the white race and that Blacks desired to become white through intermarriage. The speech was circulated among BYU religion faculty, much to embarrassment of fellow LDS scholars. Petersen later denied giving the address.[3]:68–69[75] In 1958, church apostle Bruce McConkie published "Mormon Doctrine" in which he stated that "the whole negro race have been cursed with a black skin, the mark of Cain, so they can be identified as a caste apart, a people with whom the other descendants of Adam should not intermarry."[3]:73 The quote remained, despite many other revisions,[3]:73 until the church's Deseret Book ceased printing the book in 2010.[76]

Utah's anti-miscegenation law was repealed in 1963 by the Utah state legislature;[2]:258 in 1967, the Supreme Court ruling on the case of Loving v. Virginia determined that any prohibition of interracial marriages in the United States was unconstitutional.[77] The official newspaper of the LDS Church,[78] the Church News, printed an article entitled "Interracial marriage discouraged", this article was printed on June 17, 1978, in the same issue that announced the policy reversal for blacks and the priesthood.

In a 1965 address to BYU students, apostle Spencer W. Kimball advised BYU students on interracial marriage: "Now, the brethren feel that it is not the wisest thing to cross racial lines in dating and marrying. There is no condemnation. We have had some of our fine young people who have crossed the lines. We hope they will be very happy, but experience of the brethren through a hundred years has proved to us that marriage is a very difficult thing under any circumstances and the difficulty increases in interrace marriages."[79] A church lesson manual for boys 12–13, published in 1995, contains a 1976 quote from Spencer W. Kimball that recommended the practice of marrying others of similar racial, economic, social, educational, and religious backgrounds;[80][81] in 2003, the church published the Eternal Marriage Student Manual, which uses the same quote.[82]

There was no written church policy on interracial marriages, which had been permitted since before the 1978 Revelation on the Priesthood;[79] in 1978, church spokesman Don LeFevre said, "So there is no ban on interracial marriage. If a black partner contemplating marriage is worthy of going to the Temple, nobody's going to stop him ... if he's ready to go to the Temple, obviously he may go with the blessings of the church."[83]

21st century[edit]

Speaking on behalf of the church, Robert Millet wrote in 2003: "[T]he Church Handbook of Instructions ... is the guide for all Church leaders on doctrine and practice. There is, in fact, no mention whatsoever in this handbook concerning interracial marriages; in addition, having served as a Church leader for almost 30 years, I can also certify that I have never received official verbal instructions condemning marriages between black and white members."[84]

Black suffrage[edit]

As in other places in Illinois, only free white males could vote in Nauvoo.[69]

When Utah territory was created, suffrage was only granted to free white males,[85] at that time, only a few states had allowed black suffrage. Brigham Young explained that this was connected to the priesthood ban, he argued that black suffrage would help make blacks equal to whites, which would result in a curse.[3]:39 On January 10, 1867, Congress passed the Territorial Suffrage Act, which prohibited denying suffrage based on race or previous condition of servitude, which nullified Utah's ban on black suffrage.[86]

Other racial discrimination[edit]

Between the 19th and mid-20th centuries, some Mormons held racist views, and exclusion from priesthood was not the only discrimination practiced toward black people, with Joseph Smith as the mayor of Nauvoo, blacks were prohibited from holding office or joining the Nauvoo Legion.[69] Brigham Young taught that equality efforts were misguided, claiming that those who fought for equality among blacks were trying to elevate them "to an equality with those whom Nature and Nature's God has indicated to be their masters, their superiors", but that instead they should "observe the law of natural affection for our kind."[87]

The First Presidency under Heber J. Grant sent a letter to then Stake President Ezra Benson in Washington D.C. advising that if two black Mormon women were "discreetly approached" they would be happy sit in the back or side so as not to upset some white women who had complained about sitting near them in relief society.[27]:43 In the 1950s, the San Francisco mission office took legal action to prevent black families from moving into the church neighborhood.[88] A black man living in Salt Lake City, Daily Oliver, described how, as a boy in the 1910s, he was excluded from an LDS-led boy scout troop because they did not want blacks in their building,[89][90] at least one black family was forbidden from attending church after white members complained about their attendance.[3]:68

In 1943, the LDS Hospital opened a blood bank where kept separate blood stocks for whites and blacks, it was the second-largest in-hospital blood bank. After the 1978 ending of the priesthood ban, Consolidated Blood Services agreed to supply hospitals with connections to the LDS Church, including LDS Hospital, Primary Children's and Cottonwood Hospitals in Salt Lake City, McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden, and Utah Valley Hospital in Provo. Racially segregated blood stocks reportedly ended in the 1970s, although white patients worried about receiving blood from a black donor were reassured that this would not happen even after 1978.[91]

Instances of discrimination after 1978 revelation[edit]

LDS historian Wayne J. Embry interviewed several black LDS Church members in 1987 and reported that all the participants reported "incidents of aloofness on the part of white members, a reluctance or a refusal to shake hands with them or sit by them, and racist comments made to them." Embry further reported that one black church member attended church for three years, despite being completely ignored by fellow church members. Embry reports that "she [the same black church member] had to write directly to the president of the LDS Church to find out how to be baptized" because none of her fellow church members would tell her.[92]:371

Despite the end of the priesthood ban in 1978, racist beliefs in the church prevailed. White church member Eugene England, a professor at Brigham Young University, wrote in 1998 that most Mormons still held deeply racist beliefs, including that blacks were descended from Cain and Ham and subject to their curses. England's students at BYU who reported these beliefs learned them from their parents or from instructors at church, and had little insight into how these beliefs contradicted gospel teachings;[93] in 2003, black LDS Church member Darron Smith noticed a similar problem, and wrote in Sunstone about the persistence of racist beliefs in the LDS church. Smith wrote that racism persisted in the church because church leadership had not addressed the ban's origins, this racism persisted in the beliefs that blacks were descendants of Cain, that they were neutral in the war in heaven, and that skin color was tied to righteousness.[94] In 2007, journalist and church member, Peggy Fletcher Stack, wrote that black Mormons still felt separate from other church members because of how other members treat them, ranging from calling them the "n-word" at church and in the temple to small differences in treatment, the dearth of blacks in Mormon church leadership also contributes to black members' feelings of not belonging.[95][96]

Civil rights movement[edit]

In 1958, apostle Joseph Fielding Smith published Answers to Gospel Questions, which stated that blacks should "receive all the rights and privileges [...] as declared in the Declaration of Independence." He went on to say that negroes should not be barred from any type of employment or education, and should be free "to make their lives as happy as it is possible without interference from white men, labor unions, or from any other source."[97]

NAACP involvement[edit]

In the 1960s, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) attempted to convince LDS Church leaders to support civil rights legislation and to reverse its practices in relation to African American priesthood holding and temple attendance during the Civil Rights era. In early 1963, NAACP leadership attempted to arrange meetings with church leadership, but were rebuffed in their efforts.[88] Later that year, University of Utah professor Sterling McMurrin arranged a meeting between the NAACP and church leaders.[98] N. Eldon Tanner and Hugh B. Brown, the two counselors to David O. McKay in the First Presidency, met with the head of the Utah NAACP. The NAACP threatened to protest at the October 1963 General Conference if the LDS church did not make a statement about civil rights. Brown promised that a statement would be made.[3]:76 Sterling McMurrin wrote the statement, which McKay approved.[98] McKay did not want their statement to be an "official pronouncement of the First Presidency," perhaps because some apostles were against civil rights, during the ensuing General Conference, Brown read the statement in support of civil rights legislation before beginning his talk, in a way that made the statement seem official. The NAACP did not protest at the conference.[3]:76

In 1965, the church leadership met with the NAACP, and agreed to publish an editorial in church-owned newspaper the Deseret News, which would support civil rights legislation pending in the Utah legislature, the church failed to follow-through on the commitment, and Tanner explained, "We have decided to remain silent".[88] In March 1965, the NAACP led an anti-discrimination march in Salt Lake City, protesting church policies;[88] in response, McKay agreed to let the Deseret News reprint the civil rights statement from 1963 as an "official" statement. In 1966, the NAACP issued a statement criticizing the church, saying the church "[had] maintained a rigid and continuous segregation stand" and that the church had made "no effort to counteract the widespread discriminatory practices in education, in housing, in employment, and other areas of life."[98]

Since the early part of the 20th century, each ward of the LDS Church in the United States has organized its own Boy Scouting troop, some LDS Church-sponsored troops permitted black youth to join, but a church policy required that the troop leader to be the deacons quorum president, which had the result of excluding black children from that role. The NAACP filed a federal lawsuit in 1974 challenging this practice, and soon thereafter the LDS Church reversed its policy.[99][1]

Benson against the civil rights movement[edit]

After Hugh B. Brown's statement in support of civil rights in 1963, Ezra Taft Benson began to tell others in speeches that the civil rights movement was a Communist plot. Ralph R. Harding, a congressmen from Idaho, criticized Benson's extreme views. Soon afterward, the first presidency appointed Benson to oversee the European states mission. Joseph Fielding Smith privately expressed that he hoped the appointment would help to temper Benson's extreme political views. Benson returned in 1965 and had not changed his political views, he gave an inflammatory speech in General Conference, parts of which were removed when the talk appeared in official church publications.[3]:78

In the October 1967 General Conference Apostle Ezra Benson declared that the civil rights movement was a tool of Communist revolutionaries, and that it was led by mostly white male Communists who want to "destroy America by spilling Negro blood", he also stated that accusing law enforcement of "police brutality" against black people should be recognized as attempts to discredit and discourage law enforcement.[100] His talk was re-published the next year by the church's Deseret Book as a pamphlet titled "Civil Rights: Tool of Communist Deception".[101]

Sports protests[edit]

African-American athletes protested against LDS Church policies by boycotting several sporting events with Brigham Young University; in 1968, after the assassination of Martin Luther King, black members of the UTEP track team approached their coach and expressed their desire not to compete against BYU in an upcoming meet. When the coach disregarded the athletes' complaint, the athletes boycotted the meet;[102] in 1969, 14 members of the University of Wyoming football team were removed from the team for planning to protest the policies of the LDS church.[102] In November 1969, Stanford University President Kenneth Pitzer suspended athletic relations with BYU.[103] Athletes protested Mormon racial policies at Arizona State University, San Jose State University, the University of New Mexico, and others.[3]:79

Race attitudes among members[edit]

During the 1960s and 1970s, Mormons in the West were close to the national averages in racial attitudes;[8] in 1966, Armand Mauss surveyed Mormons on racial attitudes and discriminatory practices. He found that "Mormons resembled the rather 'moderate' denominations (such as Presbyterian, Congregational, Episcopalian), rather than the 'fundamentalists' or the sects."[104] Negative racial attitudes within Mormonism varied inversely with education, occupation, community size of origin, and youth, reflecting the national trend. Urban Mormons with a more orthodox view of Mormonism tended to be more tolerant;[104] in a study covering 1972 to 1996, church membership has been shown to have lower rates of approval of segregation than the national norm, as well as a faster decline in approval of segregation over the periods covered, both with statistical significance.[105]:94–97

There were some specific LDS Church members who protested against the church's discriminatory practices. Three members, John Fitzgerald, Douglas A. Wallace, and Byron Marchant, were excommunicated by the LDS Church in 1973, 1976, and 1977 respectively, after criticizing the church's practices.[56]:345–346 Church members Grant Syphers and his wife objected to the church's racial policies and in a temple recommend renewal interview their San Francisco bishop said, "Anyone who could not accept the Church's stand on Negroes ... could not go to the temple." Their stake president agreed and they were denied the renewal.[106]

Against racism[edit]

In the early 1970s, apostle Spencer W. Kimball began preaching against racism. In 1972, he said: "Intolerance by church members is despicable. A special problem exists with respect to black people because they may not now receive the priesthood, some members of the Church would justify their own un-Christian discrimination against black people because of that rule with respect to the priesthood, but while this restriction has been imposed by the Lord, it is not for us to add burdens upon the shoulders of our black brethren. They who have received Christ in faith through authoritative baptism are heirs to the celestial kingdom along with men of all other races. And those who remain faithful to the end may expect that God may finally grant them all blessings they have merited through their righteousness, such matters are in the Lord's hands. It is for us to extend our love to all."[107]

In August 2017, the LDS church released a statement about the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia condemning racism in general.[108] Following the statement, the LDS Church released an additional statement, specifically condemning white supremacy as morally wrong. Black Mormon blogger Tami Smith said that she joyfully heard the statement and felt that the church was standing with black church members.[109][110]

Temple and priesthood restrictions[edit]

After Smith's death in 1844, Brigham Young became president of the main body of the church and led the Mormon pioneers to what would become the Utah Territory. Like many Americans at the time, Young, who was also the territorial governor, promoted discriminatory views about black people,[8] on January 16, 1852, Young made a pronouncement to the Utah Territorial Legislature, stating that "any man having one drop of the seed of [Cain] ... in him [could not] hold the priesthood."[11]:70 As recorded in the Journal of Discourses, Young taught that black people's position as "servant of servants" was a law under heaven and it was not the church's place to change God's law.[111]:172[112]:290

Under the racial restrictions that lasted from Brigham Young's presidency until 1978, persons with any black African ancestry could not receive church priesthood or any temple ordinances including the endowment and eternal marriage, or participate in any proxy ordinances for the dead with the exception of baptism for the dead.[113] The priesthood restriction was particularly limiting, because the LDS Church has a lay priesthood and most male members over the age of 12 have received the priesthood. Holders of the priesthood officiate at church meetings, perform blessings of healing, and manage church affairs. Excluding black people from the priesthood meant that men could not hold any significant church leadership roles or participate in many important events such as performing a baptism, blessing the sick, or giving a baby blessing.[3]:2 Between 1844 and 1977, most black people were not permitted to participate in ordinances performed in the LDS Church temples, such as the endowment ritual, celestial marriages, and family sealings. These ordinances are considered essential to enter the highest degree of heaven, so this meant that they could not enjoy the full privileges enjoyed by other Latter-day Saints during the restriction.[3]:164

For Latter-day Saints, a celestial marriage is not required to get into the celestial kingdom, but is required to obtain a fullness of glory or exaltation within the celestial kingdom.[114] The righteous who do not have a celestial marriage would still live eternally with God, but they would be "appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants."[115] As black people were banned from entering celestial marriage prior to 1978,[34] some interpreted this to mean that they would be treated as unmarried whites, being confined to only ever live in God's presence as a ministering servant. Mark E. Petersen[75] and Apostle George F. Richards taught that blacks could not achieve exaltation because of their priesthood and temple restrictions.[116] Several leaders, including Joseph Smith,[117] Brigham Young,[118] Wilford Woodruff,[119] George Albert Smith,[120] David O. McKay,[121] Joseph Fielding Smith,[122] and Harold B. Lee[123] taught that black people would eventually be able to receive a fullness of glory in the celestial kingdom.

Church leaders taught for decades that the priesthood ordination and temple ordinance ban was commanded by God; in 1949 the First Presidency under George Smith officially stated that it "remains as it has always stood" and was "not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord".[2]:222-223[124][11]:221 A second First Presidency statement (this time under McKay) in 1969 reemphasized that this "seeming discrimination by the Church towards the Negro is not something which originated with man; but goes back into the beginning with God".[125][2]:223[11]:222 As president of the church, Kimball also emphasized in a 1973 press conference that the ban was "not my policy or the Church’s policy, it is the policy of the Lord who has established it."[126]

On June 8, 1978, the First Presidency of the LDS church released an official declaration which would allow "all worthy male members of the church [to] be ordained to the priesthood without regard to race or color."[127] According to the accounts of several of those present, while praying in the Salt Lake Temple, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles received the revelation relating to the lifting of the priesthood ban, the apostle McConkie wrote that all present "received the same message" and were then able to understand "the will of the Lord."[128][3]:116 There were many factors that led up to the publication of this declaration[improper synthesis?]: trouble from the NAACP because of priesthood inequality,[88] the announcement of the first LDS temple in Brazil,[129] and other pressures from members and leaders of the church.[130]:94–95 After the publication of Lester Bush's seminal article in Dialogue, "Mormonism's Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview", BYU vice-president Robert K. Thomas feared that the church would lose its tax exemption status. The article described the church's racially discriminatory practices in detail, the article inspired internal discussion among church leaders, weakening the idea that the priesthood ban was doctrinal.[131]:95

Proselytization efforts[edit]

The first statement regarding proselyting towards blacks was about slaves; in 1835, the Church issued an official statement that the Church would not "interfere with bond-servants, neither preach the gospel to, nor baptize them contrary to the will and wish of their masters, nor meddle with or influence them in the least to cause them to be dissatisfied with their situations in this life, thereby jeopardizing the lives of men."[27] This was later adopted as scripture.(D&C Section 134:12) This policy was changed in 1836, when Smith wrote that slaves should not be taught the gospel at all until after their masters were converted.[27]:14

In 1962, the LDS church made plans to proselyte in Nigeria. Ambrose Chukwuo, a Nigerian college student studying in California, read Mormonism and the Negro and sent a letter to a Nigerian newspaper condemning the LDS church's unequal treatment of black members and racist beliefs, this newspaper published Chukwuo's letter, and also the letters of other students with similar opinions. The Nigerian government did not give the LDS church a permit to proselyte and David O. McKay postponed proselyting plans.[98]:85–87 Later in 1964, LaMar Williams visited, but the apostles felt that it was not the right time to open a mission there, because of the ongoing priesthood ban, and the Biafran war in 1967 further postponed church work there,[98]:94 the church did not actively proselyte to the blacks until 1978. In Africa, there were only active missionaries among whites in South Africa. Blacks in South Africa who requested baptism were told that the church was not working among the blacks.[13]:76

In the South Pacific, the church avoiding missionary work among the people of Fiji because they resembled black Africans, this was reversed in 1955 after the church issued a study to determine they were related to other Polynesian groups.[13]

In Brazil, missionaries originally taught in German, which was predominately spoken among whites. Beginning in the 1920s, after more Portuguese speaking Brazilians became interested, which had a high proportion of people with mixed ancestry, LDS officials advised missionaries to avoid teaching people who appeared to have black ancestry, advising them to look for relatives of the investigators if they were not sure about their racial heritage. If during the course of the lessons, it was discovered they had black ancestry, they were discouraged from investigating the church,[12]:27 despite the precautions, by the 40s and 50s some people with African ancestry had unwittingly been given the priesthood, which prompted an emphasis on missionaries scrutinizing people's appearances for hints of black ancestry and an order to avoid teaching those who did not meet the "one-drop rule" criteria. Additionally, starting in the 70s "lineage lessons" were added to determine that interested persons didn't have any Sub-Saharan African ancestry and thus deemed eligible for teaching.[3]:102[132] Bruce R. McConkie, an LDS apostle, justified the exclusion using the story of Enoch from the Pearl of Great Price. According to the narrative, Enoch had a vision where he was told not to proselyte to the Canaanites, who according to the account were black.[48]

After 1978, there were no restrictions against proselytizing to blacks. Shortly after, missionaries began entering areas of Africa that were more predominately black.

Black membership[edit]

Accra Ghana Temple, the second in Africa.

The church has never kept official records on the race of its membership, so exact numbers are unknown. Black people have been members of Mormon congregations since its foundation, but in 1964 its black membership was small, with about 300 to 400 black members worldwide;[133] in 1970, the officially-sanctioned black LDS support group, the Genesis Group, was formed.[3]:84 In 1997, there were approximately 500,000 black members of the church (about 5% of the total membership), mostly in Africa, Brazil and the Caribbean,[134] since then, black membership has grown, especially in West Africa, where two temples have been built,[135] doubling to about 1 million black members worldwide by 2008.[133]

After 1978 LDS Church growth in Brazil was "especially strong" among Afro-Brazilians, especially in cities such as Fortaleza and Recife along the northeast coast of the country.[136]

Regarding the LDS Church in Africa, professor Philip Jenkins noted in 2009 that LDS growth has been slower than that of other churches,[137]:2,12 he cited a variety of factors, including the fact that some European churches benefited from a long-standing colonial presence in Africa;[137]:19 the hesitance of the LDS church to expand missionary efforts into black Africa during the priesthood ban, resulting in "missions with white faces";[138]:19–20 the observation that the other churches largely made their original converts from native non-Christian populations, whereas Mormons often draw their converts from existing Christian communities.[137]:20–21 The church also has had special difficulties accommodating African cultural practices and worship styles, particularly polygamy, which has been renounced categorically by the LDS Church,[137]:21 but is still widely practiced in Africa.[139] Commenting that other denominations have largely abandoned trying to regulate the conduct of worship services in black African churches, Jenkins wrote that the LDS Church "is one of the very last churches of Western origin that still enforces Euro-American norms so strictly and that refuses to make any accommodation to local customs."[137]:23

By the 2010s, LDS Church growth was over 10% annually in Ghana, Ivory Coast, and some other countries in Africa, this was accompanied by some of the highest retention rates of converts anywhere in the church. At the same time, from 2009 to 2014, half of LDS converts in Europe were immigrants from Africa.[140]

In Ivory Coast LDS growth has gone from one family in 1984 to 40,000 people as of early 2017,[141][142] this growth lead to well over 30 congregations just in Abijan by the early 2010s.[143]

In the United States, researchers Newell G. Bringhurst and Darron T. Smith, in their 2004 book Black and Mormon, wrote that since the 1980s "the number of African American Latter-day Saints does not appear to have grown significantly. Worse still, among those blacks who have joined, the average attrition rate appears to be extremely high." They cite a survey showing that the attrition rate among African American Mormons in two towns is estimated to be between 60 and 90 percent.[48]:7

According to the 2007 Pew Religion and Public Life survey, a survey that only studied adults, there are about 180,000 self-identified black members in the U.S., or 3% of the overall U.S. membership,[144][145] Also according to this 2007 survey 9% of LDS converts in the US were of black origin or descent, while almost no lifelong Mormons were black.[146]

In April 2017 the LDS Church announced plans to build a temple in Nairobi, Kenya bringing to 6 the temples planned or built in Africa outside South Africa.[147]

The LDS Church has made inroads among Black South Africans as well, starting especially with the baptism of Julia Mavimbela in Soweto in 1981[148] although there had been black South Africans baptized in significant numbers starting in 1978. In 2017 two South African men were called to serve as mission presidents, one of them Thabo Kula James Lebethoa, was the first Black South African called to serve as a mission president in South Africa,[149] although Jackson Mkabela had previously been called to serve as a mission president in Zimbabwe.

Humanitarian aid in Africa[edit]

The church has been involved in several humanitarian aid projects in Africa, on January 27, 1985, members across the world joined together in a fast for "the victims of famine and other causes resulting in hunger and privation among people of Africa." They also donated the money that would have been used for food during the fast to help those victims, regardless of church membership.[150][151]:1730–1 Together with other organizations such as UNICEF and the American Red Cross, the church is working towards eradicating measles, since 1999, there has been a 60 percent drop in deaths from measles in Africa.[152] Due to the church's efforts, the American Red Cross gave the First Presidency the organization's highest financial support honor, the American Red Cross Circle of Humanitarians award,[153] the church has also been involved in humanitarian aid in Africa by sending food boxes,[154] digging wells to provide clean water,[155] distributing wheelchairs,[156] providing Neonatal Resuscitation Training,[157] and setting up employment resources service centers.[158]

Other Latter Day Saint groups' positions[edit]

Community of Christ[edit]

Joseph Smith III opposed slavery.

Joseph Smith III, son of Joseph Smith, founded the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1860, now known as the Community of Christ. Smith was a vocal advocate of abolishing the slave trade, and followed Owen Lovejoy, an anti-slavery congressman from Illinois, and Abraham Lincoln, he joined the Republican party and advocated for their antislavery politics. He rejected the fugitive slave law, and openly stated that he would assist slaves trying to escape.[159] While he was a strong opponent of slavery, he still viewed whites as superior to blacks, and held that they must not “sacrifice the dignity, honor and prestige that may be rightfully attached to the ruling races.”[160]

The priesthood has always been open to men of all races, and women since 1984, they reject the Pearl of Great Price, including the teachings on priesthood restrictions.[4]

Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints[edit]

In 2005, the Intelligence Report published the following statements made by Warren Jeffs, President of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints:

  • "The black race is the people through which the devil has always been able to bring evil unto the earth."
  • "[Cain was] cursed with a black skin and he is the father of the Negro people. He has great power, can appear and disappear, he is used by the devil, as a mortal man, to do great evils."
  • "Today you can see a black man with a white woman, et cetera. A great evil has happened on this land because the devil knows that if all the people have Negro blood, there will be nobody worthy to have the priesthood."
  • "If you marry a person who has connections with a Negro, you would become cursed."[161]


The Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonite) has advocated full racial integration throughout all aspects of the church since its organization in 1862. While America disputed over civil liberties and racial segregation, the church claimed their message was for all races;[162] in 1905, the church suspended an elder for opposing the full integration of all races.[163]

Historian Dale Morgan wrote in 1949: "An interesting feature of the Church's doctrine is that it discriminates in no way against ... members of other racial groups, who are fully admitted to all the privileges of the priesthood. It has taken a strong stand for human rights, and was, for example, uncompromisingly against the Ku Klux Klan during that organization's period of ascendancy after the First World War."[164]

At a time when racial segregation or discrimination was commonplace in most institutions throughout America, two of the most prominent leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ were African American. Apostle John Penn, member of the Quorum of Twelve from 1910 to 1955, conducted missionary work with many Italian Americans, and was often referred to as "The Italian's Doctor".[163] Matthew Miller, an evangelist ordained in 1937, traveled throughout Canada establishing missions with Native Americans.[163]


Strangites welcomed African Americans into their church during a time when some other factions (such as the Utah LDS church, until 1978) denied them the priesthood, or certain other benefits of membership. Strang ordained at least two African Americans to the eldership during his lifetime.[5]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b Mauss, Armand L. (2003). All Abraham's Children: Changing Mormon Conceptions of Race and Lineage. University of Illinois Press. p. 218. ISBN 0-252-02803-1. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Reeve, W. Paul (2015). Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness. New York, New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-975407-6. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au Harris, Matthew L.; Bringhurst, Newell G. (2015). The Mormon Church and Blacks: A Documentary History. Chicago: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-08121-7. 
  4. ^ a b Faith and Beliefs Archived 2007-04-09 at the Wayback Machine., webpage, retrieved June 17, 2006
  5. ^ a b "African-Americans". Retrieved on 2007-10-18.
  6. ^ United States. Congress (1857). The Congressional Globe, Part 2. Blair & Rives. p. 287. 
  7. ^ a b Young, Brigham (1987), Collier, Fred C., ed., The Teachings of President Brigham Young: Vol. 3 1852–1854, Salt Lake City, Utah: Colliers Publishing Company, ISBN 0934964017, OCLC 18192348 
  8. ^ a b c d Mauss, Armand (2003). "The LDS Church and the Race Issue: A Study in Misplaced Apologetics". FAIR. 
  9. ^ Richard Bushman (2008). Mormonism: a very short introduction. Oxford University Press. p. 111. 
  10. ^ McNamara, Mary Lou (24 January 2001). Contemporary Mormonism: Social Science Perspectives (Reprint ed.). Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press. p. 318. ISBN 0252069595. Retrieved 8 June 2017. [I]t has been the doctrine of the Church, never questioned by any of the Church leaders, that the Negroes are not entitled to the full blessings of the Gospel. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Bush, Lester E., Jr.; Mauss, Armand L., eds. (1984). Neither White Nor Black: Mormon Scholars Confront the Race Issue in a Universal Church. Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books. ISBN 0-941214-22-2. 
  12. ^ a b Grover, Mark. "Religious Accommodation in the Land of Racial Democracy: Mormon Priesthood and Black Brazilians" (PDF). Dialogue. Retrieved 20 April 2016. If at any point during the teaching process the missionaries had questions or found evidence indicating probable black lineage, they discouraged the person from continuing his or her investigation. 
  13. ^ a b c Gregory A. Prince, William Robert Wright. David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism. p. 80. 
  14. ^ Harris, Hamil R. (February 17, 2012). "Mindful of history, Mormon Church reaches out to minorities". Washington Post. Retrieved February 29, 2012. a period of more than 120 years during which black men were essentially barred from the priesthood and few Americans of color were active in the faith. 
  15. ^ Mauss (2003, pp. 219–227) (comparing 1960s survey responses of Mormons versus non-Mormons) "On the whole, Mormons were not very different from other Americans in holding rather conservative views on civil rights for blacks. On internal church questions, not all of the Saints were happy about the priesthood restriction, and many had serious doubts about other traditional teachings relating to black people. However, when pressure mounted from the outside, Mormons tended to defend their church out of loyalty, whatever their doubts."
  16. ^ Bringhurst, Newell G.; Smith, Darron T., eds. (2004). Black and Mormon. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. p. 105. ISBN 0-252-02947-X. 
  17. ^ quoting Deseret News 1999–2000 Church Almanac. Deseret News: Salt Lake City, Utah (1998); p. 119. "A rough estimate would place the number of Church members with African roots at year-end 1997 at half a million, with about 100,000 each in Africa and the Caribbean, and another 300,000 in Brazil."
  18. ^ "Saints, Slaves, and Blacks" by Bringhurst. Table 8 on p.223
  19. ^ Coleman, Ronald G. (2008). "'Is There No Blessing For Me?': Jane Elizabeth Manning James, a Mormon African American Woman". In Taylor, Quintard; Moore, Shirley Ann Wilson. African American Women Confront the West, 1600–2000. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 144–162. ISBN 978-0-8061-3979-1. Jane Elizabeth James never understood the continued denial of her church entitlements. Her autobiography reveals a stubborn adherence to her church even when it ignored her pleas. 
  20. ^ 2 Nephi 5:20-25; 2 Nephi 30:5-6
  21. ^ 2 Nephi 26:32-33
  22. ^ Mauss (2003, p. 213)
  23. ^ Matthew Bowman (2012). The Mormon People. Random House. p. 176. 
  24. ^ Terryl L. Givens; Reid L. Neilson (12 August 2014). The Columbia Sourcebook of Mormons in the United States. Columbia University Press. p. 246. ISBN 978-0-231-14942-6. that the Negro race, for instance, have been placed under restrictions because of their attitude in the world of spirits, few will doubt. It cannot be looked upon as just that they should be deprived of the power of the Priesthood without it being a punishment for some act, or acts, performed before they were born. 
  25. ^ McNamara, Mary Lou (24 January 2001). Contemporary Mormonism: Social Science Perspectives (Reprint ed.). Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press. p. 318. ISBN 0252069595. Retrieved 8 June 2017. 
  26. ^ a b "Lowry Nelson and First Presidency Letter Exchange". Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections and Archives Division. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h Bush, Lester E. (1973). "Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview" (PDF). Dialogue. 8 (1). 
  28. ^ "The Lowry Nelson Exchange". Thoughts on Things and Stuff. 1 December 2013. Retrieved 31 August 2017. 
  29. ^ Taylor, Samuel. "The Ordeal of Lowry Nelson and the Mis-spoken Word" (PDF). Dialogue. 26 (3). Retrieved 31 August 2017. 
  30. ^ McConnkie, Bruce (1954). Doctrines of Salvation. Bookcraft. p. 61,66. ISBN 0884940411. Retrieved 9 September 2017. There is a reason why one man is born black and with other disadvantages while another is born white with great advantages. The reason is that we once had an estate before we came here, and we were obedient, more or less, to the laws that were given us there, those who were faithful in all things there received greater blessings here, and those who were not faithful received less. ...All took sides either with Christ or with Satan, every man had his agency there, and men receive rewards here based upon their actions there .... The Negro, evidently, is receiving the reward he merits. 
  31. ^ McKeever, Bill; Johnson, Eric (April 2000). Mormonism 101: Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints. Baker Books. p. 245. ISBN 0801063353. Retrieved 9 September 2017. 
  32. ^ "The Mormons . Interviews . Jeffrey Holland - PBS". 
  33. ^ Campbell, David E.; Green, John C.; Monson, J. Quin (2014). Seeking the Promised Land: Mormons and American Politics. New York, New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-107-02797-8. 
  34. ^ a b "Race and the Priesthood". 
  35. ^ Genesis 4:8-15
  36. ^ Genesis 9:20-27
  37. ^ Young, Brigham (1863). Wikisource link to Journal of Discourses/Volume 10/Necessity for Watchfulness, etc.. Wikisource. pp. 248–250. 
  38. ^ Collier, Fred C. (1987). The Teachings of President Brigham Young Vol. 3 1852–1854. Colliers Publishing Co. pp. 41–50. ISBN 0934964017. Retrieved 19 August 2017. The Lord said, I will not kill Cain, but I will put a mark upon him, and it is seen in the face of every Negro on Earth. And it is the decree of God that that mark shall remain upon the seed of Cain (and the curse) until all the seed of Abel should be redeemed; and Cain will not receive the Priesthood or Salvation until all the seed of Abel are redeemed. Any man having one drop of the seed of Cain in him cannot hold the Priesthood and if no other Prophet ever spake it before, I will say it now—in the name of Jesus Christ, I know it is true, and others know it! ...Let me consent today to mingle my seed with the seed of Cain—it would bring the same curse upon me and it would upon any man. ... The Negro should serve the seed of Abraham—but it should be done right—don't abuse the Negro and treat him cruel. ...As an ensample—let [some] say now, "We will all go and mingle with the seed of Cain.... I will never admit of it for a moment. ... The Devil would like to rule part of the time, but I am determined he shall not rule at all, and Negros [sic] shall not rule us. I will not admit of the Devil ruling at all—I will not consent for the seed of Cain to vote for me or my brethren. ...The Canaanite cannot have wisdom to do things as the white man has. 
  39. ^ Skousen, Cleon (5 December 2011). Treasures from the Book of Mormon, Volume Two: Enos 1 to Alma 29 (3rd ed.). Brigham City, Utah: Brigham Distributing. pp. 2–214. ISBN 0934364176. Retrieved 20 August 2017. Why are so many of the inhabitants of the earth cursed with a skin of blackness? It comes in consequence of their fathers rejecting the power of the Holy Priesthood, and the law of God. They will go down to death. And when all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the Holy Priesthood, then that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and possess the priesthood, and receive all the blessings which we now are entitled to. 
  40. ^ Smith Jr., Joseph Fielding. "The Way to Perfection: Cain, Ham, and the Priesthood". BYU-Idaho. Retrieved 20 August 2017. 
  41. ^ Young, Brigham (7 October 1857). "Testimony of the Spirit—Revelation Given According to Requirements—Spiritual Warfare and Conquest, Etc.". Journal of Discourses. 5: 332. Retrieved 20 August 2017. You can see men and women who are sixty or seventy years of age looking young and handsome; but let them apostatize, and they will become grayhaired, wrinkled, and black, just like the Devil. 
  42. ^ Taylor, John (28 August 1881). "Duties of the Saints—The Atonement, Etc.". Journal of Discourses. 22: 304. Retrieved 19 August 2017. And after the flood we are told that the curse that had been pronounced upon Cain was continued through Ham's wife, as he had married a wife of that seed. And why did it pass through the flood? Because it was necessary that the devil should have a representation upon the earth as well as God .... 
  43. ^ Taylor, John (29 October 1882). "Men Powerless Except as God Permits—Ordeals Necessary to Purify—Zion Will Triumph". Journal of Discourses. 23: 336. Retrieved 19 August 2017. Why is it, in fact, that we should have a devil? Why did not the Lord kill him long ago? Because he could not do without him. He needed the devil and a great many of those who do his bidding just to keep men straight, that we may learn to place our dependence upon God, and trust in Him, and to observe his laws and keep his commandments. When [God] destroyed the inhabitants of the antediluvian world, he suffered a descendant of Cain to come through the flood in order that [the devil] might be properly represented upon the earth. 
  44. ^ Winter, Arthur (3 June 1889). "Discourse Delivered by President Wilford Woodruff at the General Conference, Salt Lake City, on Sunday Afternoon, April 7, 1877.". Millennial Star. 51 (22): 339. Retrieved 20 August 2017. What was that mark? It was a mark of blackness. That mark rested upon Cain, and descended upon his posterity from that time until the present. To day there are millions of the descendants of Cain, through the lineage of Ham, in the world, and that mark of darkness still rest upon them. ... The Lamanites, on this continent, suffered a similar experience. ... [T]he Lord put a curse of redness upon them. Hundreds of years have passed since then, but wherever you meet the Lamanites to-day, you see that mark upon them. 
  45. ^ Abraham 1:26
  46. ^ Old Testament Student Manual Genesis-2 Samuel. Therefore, although Ham himself had the right to the priesthood, Canaan, his son, did not. Ham had married Egyptus, a descendant of Cain (Abraham 1:21-24), and so his sons were denied the priesthood. 
  47. ^ Kidd, Colin (2006). The Forging of Races: Race and Scripture in the Protestant Atlantic World, 1600–2000. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521793247. 
  48. ^ a b c Bringhurst, Newell G.; Smith, Darron T., eds. (2004). "Introduction". Black and Mormon. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. pp. 1–12. ISBN 0-252-02947-X. 
  49. ^ a b John David Smith. Dictionary of Afro-American Slavery. 
  50. ^ Flake, Joel. "Green Flake: His Life and Legacy" (1999) [Textual Record]. Americana Collection, Box: BX 8670.1 .F5992f 1999, p. 8. Provo, Utah: L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Brigham Young University.
  51. ^ a b Kristen Rogers-Iversen (September 2, 2007). "Utah settlers' black slaves caught in 'new wilderness'". The Salt Lake Tribune. 
  52. ^ a b Don B. Williams. Slavery in Utah Territory: 1847–1865. 
  53. ^ Collier, Fred C. (1987). The Teachings of President Brigham Young Vol. 3 1852–1854. Colliers Publishing Co. pp. 26–29. ISBN 0934964017. Retrieved 19 August 2017. [I]nasmuch as we believe in the Bible, … we must believe in Slavery. This colored race have [sic] been subjected to severe curses, which they have … brought upon themselves. … I am a firm believer in Slavery. … A strong abolitionist feeling has power over [many brethren] and they commence to whisper … ‘I am afraid it is not right.’ I know [slavery] is right, and there should be a law made to have the slaves serve their masters, because they are not capable of ruling themselves. … I am firm in the belief that they ought to dwell in servitude. … When a master has a Negro, and uses him well, [the slave] is much better off than if he was free. … good wholesome servitude, I know there is nothing better than that. 
  54. ^ Watt, George D. (23 January 1852). "Speech by Governor Young in Joint Session of the Legislature, giving counsel on a bill in relation to African Slavery, given at Salt Lake City, on Friday, January 23rd, 1852". Brigham Young Papers. History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: 1–3. Retrieved 15 October 2017. 
  55. ^ Brigham Young told Greeley: "If slaves are brought here by those who owned them in the states, we do not favor their escape from the service of their owners." (see Greeley, Overland Journey 211–212) quoted in Terry L. Givens, Philip L. Barlow. The Oxford Handbook of Mormonism. p. 383. 
  56. ^ a b Stevenson, Russell W. (2014). For the Cause of Righteousness. Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books. ISBN 978-1-58958-529-4. 
  57. ^ Carter, Kate B. (1965). The Story of the Negro Pioneer. Salt Lake City, Utah: Daughters of Utah Pioneers. We feel it to be our duty to define our position in relation to the subject of slavery. There are several in the Valley of the Salt Lake from the Southern States, who have their slaves with them. There is no law in Utah to authorize slavery, neither any to prohibit it. If the slave is disposed to leave his master, no power exists there, either legal or moral, that will prevent him, but if the slave chooses to remain with his master, none are allowed to interfere between the master and the slave. All the slaves that are there appear to be perfectly contented and satisfied. When a man in the Southern states embraces our faith, the Church says to him, if your slaves wish to remain with you, and to go with you, put them not away; but if they choose to leave you, or are not satisfied to remain with you, it is for you to sell them, or let them go free, as your own conscience may direct you. The Church, on this point, assumes not the responsibility to direct, the laws of the land recognize slavery, we do not wish to oppose the laws of the country. If there is sin in selling a slave, let the individual who sells him bear that sin, and not the Church.Millennial Star, February 15, 1851. 
  58. ^ Bigler, David L. (1998). Forgotten Kingdom: The Mormon Theocracy in the American West, 1847–1896. Arthur H. Clark Company. ISBN 0-87062-282-X. 
  59. ^ Negro Slaves in Utah by Jack Beller, Utah Historical Quarterly, vol. 2, no. 4, 1929, pp. 124–126
  60. ^ "Brief History Alex Bankhead and Marinda Redd Bankhead (mention of Dr Pinney of Salem)". The Broad Ax. March 25, 1899. 
  61. ^ a b Nicholas R. Cataldo (1998). "Former Slave Played Major Role In San Bernardino's Early History:Lizzy Flake Rowan". City of San Bernardino. 
  62. ^ "The Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star, Volume 17". p. 63. Most of those who take slaves there pass over with them in a little while to San Bernardino ... How many slaves are now held there they could not say, but the number relatively was by no means small. A single person had taken between forty and fifty, and many had gone in with smaller numbers. 
  63. ^ Mark Gutglueck. "Mormons Created And Then Abandoned San Bernardino". San Bernadino County Sentinel. 
  64. ^ Camille Gavin (2007). Biddy Mason: A Place of Her Own. America Star Books. 
  65. ^ Benjamin Hayes. "Mason v. Smith". none of the said persons of color can read and write, and are almost entirely ignorant of the laws of the state of California as well as those of the State of Texas, and of their rights 
  66. ^ Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, South Carolina and Alabama repealed their laws during the Reconstruction period, but the laws were later reinstated and remained in force until 1967.
  67. ^ Persuitte, David (2000). Joseph Smith and the Origins of the Book of Mormon. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. p. 237. ISBN 978-0-7864-0826-9. 
  69. ^ a b c Kass Fleisher. Bear River Massacre and the Making of History. p. 28. 
  70. ^ Young, Brigham (1987), Collier, Fred C., ed., The Teachings of President Brigham Young: Vol. 3 1852–1854, Salt Lake City, Utah: Colliers Publishing Company, ISBN 0-934964-01-7, OCLC 18192348, let my seed mingle with the seed of Cain, and that brings the curse upon me and upon my generations; we will reap the same rewards with Cain. In the priesthood I will tell you what it will do. Were the children of God to mingle their seed with the seed of Cain it would not only bring the curse of being deprived of the power of the priesthood upon themselves but they entail it upon their children after them, and they cannot get rid of it. 
  71. ^ a b Lund, John Lewis (1967). The Church and the Negro. Salt Lake City, Utah: Paramount Publishers. 
  72. ^ Clark, J. Reuben (August 1946). "Plain Talk to Girls". Improvement Era. 49 (8): 492. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  73. ^ Whalen, William Joseph (1964). The Latter-Day Saints in the Modern Day World: An Account of Contemporary Mormonism. New York City: The John Day Company. p. 254. Retrieved 16 September 2017. We are not unmindful of the fact that there is a growing tendency ... toward the breaking down of race barriers in the matter of intermarriage between whites and blacks, but it does not have the sanction of the Church and is contrary to Church doctrine. 
  74. ^ Quinn, D. Michael (2002). Elder Statesman: A Biography of J. Reuben Clark. Signature Books. p. 345. ISBN 1560851554. Retrieved 9 October 2017. Since they are not entitled to the Priesthood, the Church discourages social intercourse with the negro race, because such intercourse leads to marriage, and the offspring possess negro blood and is therefore subject to the inhibition set out in our Scripture. 
  75. ^ a b Petersen, Mark E.Race Problems — As They Affect The Church, Convention of Teachers of Religion on the College Level, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, August 27, 1954
  76. ^ Stack, Peggy Fletcher (21 May 2010). "Landmark 'Mormon Doctrine' goes out of print". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 2010-05-31. 
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  79. ^ a b "Interracial Marriage Discouraged", Church News, June 17, 1978, p. 2.
  80. ^ Embry 1994, p. 169
  81. ^ "Lesson 31: Choosing an Eternal Companion". Aaronic Priesthood Manual 3. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1995. pp. 127–129. 
  82. ^ Eternal Marriage Student Manual. 2003. "We recommend that people marry those who are of the same racial background generally, and of somewhat the same economic and social and educational background (some of those are not an absolute necessity, but preferred), and above all, the same religious background, without question 
  83. ^ Don LeFevre, Salt Lake Tribune, June 14, 1978.
  84. ^ Robert L. Millet, "Church Response to Jon Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven", June 27, 2003.
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  86. ^ Congressional Globe, 39th Congress, 2nd Session, pp. 381–82 - See more at:
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  97. ^ "Black History Timeline -". Archived from the original on 21 March 2017. Retrieved 18 September 2017. 
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  102. ^ a b Fried, Gil; Michael Hiller (1997). "ADR in youth and intercollegiate athletics". Brigham Young University Law Review. , p. 1, p. 10
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  105. ^ Mauss, Armand L. (2004). "Casting off the 'Curse of Cain': The Extent and Limits of Progress since 1978". In Bringhurst, Newell G.; Smith, Darron T. Black and Mormon. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. pp. 82–115. ISBN 0-252-02947-X. 
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  107. ^ The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 237, emphasis in original
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  113. ^ In her autobiography, Jane Elizabeth Manning James says she "had the privilege of going into the temple and being baptized for some of my dead." Life History of Jane Elizabeth Manning James as transcribed by Elizabeth J.D. Round
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  115. ^ D&C 132:16
  116. ^ Elder George F. Richards, Conference Report, April 1939, p. 58.
  117. ^ In regards to black people, Joseph Smith taught that "They have souls, and are subjects of salvation."Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 269. ISBN 0-87579-243-X
  118. ^ Brigham Young said "when all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the Holy Priesthood, then that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and possess the priesthood, and receive all the blessings which we are now entitled to." quoted by the First Presidency, August 17, 1949.
  119. ^ Wilford Woodruff said "The day will come when all that race will be redeemed and possess all the blessings which we now have" quoted by the First Presidency on August 17, 1949 Archived June 24, 2017[Date mismatch], at the Wayback Machine.
  120. ^ George Albert Smith reiterated what was said by both Brigham Young and Wilford Woodruff in a statement by the First Presidency on August 17, 1949 Archived June 24, 2017[Date mismatch], at the Wayback Machine.
  121. ^ David McKay taught "Sometime in God's eternal plan, the Negro will be given the right to hold the priesthood. In the meantime, those of that race who receive the testimony of the Restored Gospel may have their family ties protected and other blessings made secure, for in the justice of the Lord they will possess all the blessings to which they are entitled in the eternal plan of Salvation and Exaltation."(Mormonism and the Negro, pp. 23)
  122. ^ In reference to black people, Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith taught: "Every soul coming into this world came here with the promise that through obedience he would receive the blessings of salvation. No person was foreordained or appointed to sin or to perform a mission of evil. No person is ever predestined to salvation or damnation, every person has free agency." (Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.1, p. 61)
  123. ^ In 1972, Harold B. Lee said, "It's only a matter of time before the black achieves full status in the Church. We must believe in the justice of God, the black will achieve full status, we're just waiting for that time." (Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, working draft chapter 20, page 22; citing Goates, Harold B. Lee, 506, quoting UPI interview published November 16, 1972.)
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  127. ^ Official Declaration 2.
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  138. ^ Jenkins, Philip (Spring 2009). "Letting Go: Understanding Mormon Growth in Africa". Journal of Mormon History. 35 (2). Retrieved December 16, 2012. For one thing, the relatively late start of LDS expansion—from the late 1970s onwards—meant that the missions still have white faces, decades after other traditions have become thoroughly Africanized 
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  153. ^ "American Red Cross Recognizes Church for Support of Measles Initiative in Africa",, February 8, 2005
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